We had the good fortune of connecting with Anden Wilder and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Anden, why did you pursue a creative career?
I am a creative in the sense that it dominates my life and everything that I do. I feel like I am always trying to get into that head space where I can kind of zone out and create— whether it is painting or drawing or cooking— whatever I am doing is driven by my being a creative person. Creatives in general kind of have a bad reputation for being disorganized and scattered and I think sometimes I definitely fit that mold. It can be a bit of a weakness as well as a strength. However, I have chosen this work because I can be my most authentic self and give to the world what I can most meaningfully give. I work as an illustrator for children’s books and I have a passion for literacy. As a child, I also found myself feeling most at home in books. I love quiet and coziness and escape. Growing up is quite hard and I hope to bring some comfort to readers through my own work.    

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I attended the Maryland Institute College of Art where I concentrated on painting but also did a lot of ceramics and some performance work. My greatest influences always were in the world of books and particularly children’s books. My work then was quite nostalgic and a bit weird. I think I wanted to be an Artist— like a serious painter.  I was resistant to becoming a part of the illustration world even though I so clearly belonged there. I went to graduate school and became an art teacher,  which I loved but I always knew my passion wasn’t in the classroom. I do love working with children and I am a very playful person so it was a good fit for a while. After I had my first child in 2017 my family and I moved to San Miguel de Allende— a small city in the state of Guanajuato in Mexico. It was a transformative experience and I found myself thinking about children’s books a lot and feeling very inspired.  When we moved back to the states, I made it my goal to have children’s book illustration become my career. I learned about SCBWI— the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators— I joined a critique group and I really dug in deep. I recently signed with Red Fox Literary agency and that feels like a big step. In hindsight, every part of my journey— the good and the bad— had meaning and led me in the right direction. Now that I see that more clearly, when things are hard or I get some bad news or a rejection, I can see it through that lens and trust that I am on my path. As creatives, the road to success is so different for everyone that you have to remember that what worked for one person might not be what works for you. You just have to dive in and keep going and trust yourself and your instincts.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am a Denver native and I love so many things about this city. The Denver Botanic Gardens is a must— especially on a Fall or Winter day. I love driving around Denver and looking at all the great houses. I love Washington Park and City Park. I adore taking my kids to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and The Denver Art Museum of course— I particularly love the contemporary wing. I live near a great coffee shop- Quince Essential— it’s a great spot (Colfax and Quince). Some restaurants I love— Shish Kabob (Colfax and Grant), Little India and Yak and Yeti are both delicious. I also love Sushi Den for special occasions. BookBar and The Bookies are two great bookstores I would highly recommend— I always try to support local independent book sellers! 

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
If you want to see some great work by other Colorado illustrators working in children’s books, you can go to www.cuddlefishgang.com.

Website: www.andenwilder.com
Instagram: @andenwilderillustration
Twitter: @andenwilder
Facebook: Anden Wilder Illustration

Image Credits
All images ©️Anden Wilder 2020

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